by Rene Villaroman/Asianjournal.com
LOS ANGELES — With less than two weeks before the California presidential primary, three Democratic Party frontrunners campaigned in California on Thursday, January 17.
New York Senator Hillary Clinton began her two-day dash in California with an appearance in Compton where she invoked the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. at an African-American congregation of the Citizens of Zion Missionary Baptist Church.
Illinois Senator Barack Obama campaigned in Van Nuys on Wednesday, and former Senator John Edwards brought his cause to the downtown Los Angeles headquarters of the SEI Union Local 721, calling his quest for the presidency the “cause of my life.” He appealed to union workers to create a “tidal wave of change to sweep across the nation.”
Later in the afternoon, Senator Clinton outlined her program of government in her visit that marked the 14th anniversary of the devastating Northridge Earthquake which occurred during President Bill Clinton’s term in 1994.
Congressman Brad Sherman, who introduced Clinton, called the Northridge Earthquake and the Katrina Disaster in New Orleans as ‘A Tale of Two Cities.’ He described how the administrations of Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush tackled the disasters.
Speaking to hundreds of California State University Northridge (CSUN) students, invited guests and dozens of journalists, Clinton appealed by commemorating the disaster.
“I remember being told immediately about what had happened and the impact of what we saw on our televisions,” Senator Clinton said.
Clinton said that the Northridge earthquake and the Katrina disaster in New Orleans both were natural disasters. “The responses of the Federal government [to the two calamities] could not be more night and day,” she said. “I was very proud that our government responded [to the Northridge earthquake]. It was an all-out effort to make sure that this great university and much of the surrounding areas were put back together as soon as possible,” she said.
In contrast, in New Orleans “people are still homeless, living in trailers that leak formaldehyde. Police and fire services hadn’t come back,” Clinton said. “The largest hospital in the State is destroyed and shuttered.”
Sen. Clinton asked the crowd to look at what’s at stake in the 2008 presidential elections. She said that nothing would be more important than a president who can respond quickly and with compassion and competence to marshal the resources of the federal government on behalf of citizens who are suffering.
“On January 20th, 2009, the next President of the United States will take the oath of office, and when that president goes to the Oval Office, there will be a lot of problems waiting : wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, an energy crisis, 47 million uninsured Americans, oil prices at $100 a barrel, global warming, which has been derided and ignored for so long, and the economy is showing a lot of troubling signs,” she said.
“I hope to deal with it before next year, but depending upon what we do, the next president will find economic challenges and pain,” Senator Clinton added. “I know that the American people can do better. I know it will be challenging, and there will be a lot of opportunities.”
Clinton announced that she would declare a moratorium on all home foreclosures for 90 days. “No one could be foreclosed for 90 days while we try to work out ways to keep people in their homes.”
“I would freeze interest rates for five years,” she said. “Interest rates have gone up much faster on home mortgages than most other things in life.” She promised to do everything she could to have some funds available to provide financial counseling to families so they could avoid foreclosures.
“I would also do more to help (families) pay for their energy bills. The cost of energy in many parts of the country has skyrocketed,” she noted. She said she would make sure that people don’t lose their jobs, and when they do, that there is enough money to pay for unemployment claims.
Clinton said her administration would give tax rebates to as many middle class families. “I do not think that there should be more tax cuts for the wealthy; tax cuts should be for the working class,” a declaration that was met with a hearty applause.
“It is imperative that we have a healthcare system that covers everyone.” Clinton said noting that a universal healthcare system is more economically viable. “We can’t keep spending and insuring fewer and fewer people and having doctors feel so demoralized because they are not working for their patients, they are working for the insurance companies.”
Clinton proposed offering the so-called ‘American Congress Plan’. “If you have insurance and you are happy with your insurance you can continue doing that. But if you have coverage but are unhappy, I think we can have a better deal than what you have now,” she said.
“We are going to offer the Congressional Plan. They have 250 different choices. We know that if it is good enough for Congress, it should be good enough for America.”
Throughout her one-hour talk, Clinton never touched on the subject of immigration reform, an issue that reverberates in other Western states like Arizona and Colorado, and in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.
Senator Clinton also was scheduled to campaign in Santa Barbara Thursday evening. At the Northridge assemblage, she was joined by LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who had been campaigning with her in the Iowa Caucus and in the New Hampshire Primary and would campaign for Clinton in Nevada for Friday’s (January 18) Caucus. Clinton also acknowledged the support of LA Council Members Wendy Greuel and Jose Huizar, Assemblyman Felipe Fuentes, State Controller John Chung, and rep. Sherman who attended.